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Superfolks

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3.48  ·  Rating details ·  509 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Before there was WATCHMEN, there was SUPERFOLKS....

David Brinkley used to be a hero, the greatest the world had ever seen--until he retired, got married, moved to the suburbs, and packed on a few extra pounds. Now all the heroes are dead or missing, and his beloved New York is on the edge of chaos. It's up to Brinkley to come to the rescue, but he's in the midst of a
...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 9th 2005 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  509 ratings  ·  65 reviews


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John Kirk
Sep 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
This novel was out of print for quite a long time, and it almost reached legendary status amongst comics readers: several respected writers named it as a major influence on their work, e.g. Kurt Busiek and Grant Morrison. I'm willing to take their word for it, i.e. I believe them when they say that it was groundbreaking at the time it was first published, and it may well have inspired several people to reinvent the genre. However, looking at it now it's a bit embarrassing, so if you just read ...more
Jack Haringa
Mar 31, 2011 rated it liked it
This novel is touted as being the precursor to the more realistic (or at least grittier) and less purely heroic portrayal of superheroes that swept through comics in the early- to mid-1980s. Out of print for over two decades, Mayer's book was reprinted in 2005 with a (slightly inaccurate) foreword by Grant Morrison and blurb from Stan Lee, Paul Dini, and Kurt Busiek to help draw in current comics readers. Clearly, all of this worked on me.

Superfolks is self-consciously gonzo and wacky in a very
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Alex Sarll
So, obviously I'd heard mutterings of this before, but it was when it became the latest front in the Grant Morrison/Alan Moore DUEL OF WIZARDS that I got motivated to pop it on the old wishlist. Morrison's contention, as I recall, being that Moore had not sufficiently acknowledged his borrowings from Mayer in his major early works. Well...no. The Moore works of which I was reminded here were not Watchmen and Miracleman, they were the charming minor pieces 'Pictopia' and 'Whatever Happened to the ...more
Daniel Brandon
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
I had been looking for this book on and off for quite a long time, now. You see, once upon a time, when I was but a young lad of 13 or 14, I stumbled across a copy of it in my local library. It made quite an impression. Unfortunately, that particular edition of the text had been released under the title "Everyman," which meant that my subsequent efforts to find it were doomed to be fruitless, until I finally managed to Google the right combination of the few bits that I actually remembered ...more
Trin
Oct 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american-lit, fiction
Considered to be the original “retired superhero” tale, the inspiration for more well-known works like Watchmen and The Incredibles. Too bad it sucks. Mayer’s sense of humor seems to be based almost entirely around bad puns, and on naming his main characters after famous people. (Our protagonist: David Brinkley.) Not only is this not funny, it’s confusing: when someone like Richard Nixon is mentioned, who are we then supposed to assume he means?

There’s also just something…unpleasant about this
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Chip
Jan 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Characters: 3*
Plot: 3*
Universe: 3*

I know this is a cult favorite of many people and I did enjoy it, but just didn't fall in love with it.
Michael Battaglia
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If someone described to you a book that was an influence on the superhero deconstruction stories of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison (among others) in a satirical style that was not unlike Kurt Vonnegut, what kind of book would you imagine? A funnier "Watchmen"? A sort of proto-"Marvelman"? An "anything goes" style of absurdity that leaves a distinct roadmap for later projects like "Doom Patrol"? A work that skewers superheroes and all that cliches that come along with 1970s genre stories, from the ...more
B
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
This is reminiscent of the Roger Rabbit novel. The author has found this then-untapped, rich field for parody. He then sets out to develop the friction between the real world and the subject. But something about it feels unprofessional. I can't tell you what, but it does.

I think part of it might be the author's decision to place the characters in the world of DC Comics without authorization which lends itself to a weird feeling that the important name-brand heroes are too important to show up.
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Doug
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I saw this in a store once upon a time, flipped through it, thought it was good and I'd buy it when I had money, and then it was gone. But due to the Magic of the Internet, I eventually found it again and read it.

It hasn't aged well. Funny-name jokes rarely work on me. So calling "Kryptonite" "Cronkite" isn't that funny to me, even thought I know who Cronkite was.

But it had some really good moments, particularly when it wasn't trying to be funny. And the ending actually was moving.
Chris
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
A satirical look at the life of a retired superhero. The book was written in 1977, so some of the humor is dated, but i got a chuckle out of much of it, especially him running into flying doghouses with a french-speaking dog.
I think if you go into it looking more for the humor in it than the overall plot, you might have a better time. Things seems to just sort of wrap up quicker than i expected.
Braden A.
Oct 08, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Superhero enthusiasts
A funny little spoof of the superhero world which occasionally abandons its humor for more serious matter, and that's when it falls apart.

The ending is totally convoluted and incomprehensible.

Still, the good stuff is really good.
Chris Gwinn
Nov 25, 2012 added it
Shelves: gave-up-on
Sometimes there are books that shift entire genres enough that they feel strip mined when you read them late. Superfolks was like that for me - all that was left was the strange use of celebrity names.
Barry Wynn
This book forever twisted my brain for fiction. Probably set me up for HST, Alan Moore, and Warren Ellis to come later.
David
Jun 14, 2013 rated it liked it
It was okay. Probably better in the 70s when all the references were current. Now it reads as a very dated novel. Liked the basic concept though.
Michael
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loeg-archives
This is a new printing of Mayer's 1977 novel about a middle-aged superhero who comes out of retirement due largely to plot to kill him. Fellows like Kurt Busiek and Grant Morrison are on record as being heavily influenced by it, and I found this copy at the CBLDF booth at NYCC, so it seemed a nice means to getting a book that tempted me and giving to a cause I support.

It's a solidly written novel, with clear, easy to read paragraphs. I found myself wishing for a little more complexity in some of
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Ross
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fascinating story and a great plot, but I got pulled out of it a lot with the Mad Libs-style satire.

"[Superhero's name (color)] lived as mild-mannered [70s celebrity]. He arrived on Earth from the planet [News Reporter], sent there by [Famous Fictional TV Couple]."
A lot of it seemed ham-fisted and could have used the opportunity to make parody names. The secret identity of Indigo, David Brinkley, could have been David Drinkley and added an extra layer of the comic book alliteration we have come
...more
Peter
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I recently heard that Robert Mayer had passed away and had never heard of him or this book. I was intrigued when I heard how much it inspired other comic book writers of an era that I moots admired. I can see so many similarities here and given it was written in 1977, means Robert was ahead of the pack. Unfortunately, time has not been kind as some of the writing and media references are dated. I can see the Incredibles, Miracleman among others while I read this. It can be funny, but it can also ...more
Rodney Haydon
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Like many others, I found out about this novel through the introduction to the Astro City collection Astro City, Vol. 1: Life in the Big City, and was determined to find a copy and read it.
It is definitely a book of its time, and someone that doesn't know much about the 70's may not get the many references. I enjoyed it, but it was more satire than I was expecting, so my enthusiasm is tampered a bit. I understand if others feel it is a bit dated, but that didn't concern me, as I read books in
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Neil Carey
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Jokes/satire that's gut-bustingly hilarious if you're a Baby Boomer, and likely just mildly amusing if you're not. One, maybe two, truly and geniunely gripping/exciting moments. In the final analysis, it's not at all a bad way to, say, spend a weekend; but unlike the later reworkings of the superhero, whatever ambitions it harbors are undone in the end due to it being a rather workmanlike piece that's ultimately content to play it safe.
Paul Sanders
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic

This book is like the mouth of the nile;the source of dozens of superhero stories and concepts. While it often verges on magical realism, the ideas and character s seem to be evergreen. I understand how it molded everyone from Moore to busiek , from superman to sentry.
Eolaí
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in the 1970s, not long after it came out. I remember thinking it was funny. But I was very young in the 1970s.
Chuck
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A forgotten cut classic
Christine
May 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Superman, The Incredibles, The Watchmen, Astro City, and the superhero genre in general
Recommended to Christine by: Kurt Busiek's introduction to Astro City
Shelves: superheroes, fiction
I picked up "Superfolks" after I'd heard it touted as the first book to deconstruct the superhero mythos, and I was not disappointed! I don't know whether Alan Moore or the writers of "The Incredibles" consciously drew on this book for inspiration, but it's a lot of fun to see how many elements from "The Incredibles," "The Watchmen," and even stories like "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" actually showed up in "Superfolks" first.

Originally published in 1977, the story follows David
...more
Lauren
May 26, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1977, this is the story of a former superhero who now whiles away his days at a middling 9-to-5 job and lives in the suburbs with his family until disaster strikes. And that's where the similarities to The Incredibles end. Compared to other superhero novels meant for adults, this one is decent as far as the main plot. When the book gets to the heart of its story and dispenses with the frills, its positively brilliant in capturing how we all simultaneously grow old and make peace ...more
Antonio Nunez
Feb 12, 2016 rated it liked it
This is is mythical book. It's the book that inspired superhero comics in the 1980s and beyond, stories such as Alan Moore's What Happened to the Man of Tomorrow and Watchmen, Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and the movie The Incredibles. The subject is a superhero who abandons his quest, settles down and vegetates for years and, when he is at his feeblest, is forced to don again the superhero mantle as part of a huge, labyrinthine conspiracy by a former archenemy. The story is amusing and ...more
Jesse
Jun 21, 2015 rated it liked it
This late 70s satire of superhero conventions is well-written and intermittently funny, but isn't entirely successful. It balances between serious pathos and incredibly silly (sometimes downright surreal) humor that leaves one with emotional whiplash. The plot is also pretty secondary to the convention skewering, which is okay until the moments when the humor starts to sag. I also felt that the constant references to 70s pop culture and politics, while occasionally in keeping with the idea of ...more
Jeremiah
May 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: prose
This is a rare book that gets better as it goes. Unfortunately it is still poorly written. And that is not even taking into account the attempts at humor, which are frequent, and almost always a failure.

The book has not aged well either. It is filled with references to the late '70s, that don't always hold up.

It's biggest strength is its groundbreaking take on Superheroes, now referred to as 'deconstruction.' The problem is, it has been done subsequently. A lot. And frankly, a lot better.

Yes,
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HeavyReader
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
I would give this book two and a half stars if I could, the extra half for all the hilarious pop culture references sprinkled throughout.

There were some exciting bits in this book and some funny bits as well, but I never felt really thrilled about it. It was one of those books that by the time I realized it wasn't going to be great, I had already read so much that it only made sense to me to read the rest. It would make a really great comic book, I think, but was just sort of long and heavy and
...more
JC
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, satire, superheroes
This is a must-read book for every superhero junkie even though – or exactly because – it deconstructs the superhero cliche. It's a very funny and clever satire that is very satisfying on every level. Considering that this was written in the 70s it has aged well, apart from the pop culture references that is.

It's perfectly befitting the zeitgeist of the Bronze Age of Comic Books and to my great enjoyment Robert Mayer even managed to squeeze a couple of fairy tale characters in there! If you
...more
Jesse Toldness
Oct 22, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a strange book to read. In some ways, it is a creature of its time, weighed down with strange dated references to the pop culture of the year of my birth. In others, it is ahead of its time, it was having a serious conversation about superheroes as people, people who deal with violence, failure, sexuality and more, nearly ten years before comics picked up the thread. Both strange and off-putting and brilliant and insightful, it is a paradox in the raw, as all the best conversations ...more
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